THE COLD INSIDE
By AL BRUNO III
Tuesday November 8, 1994
He snapped awake and kicked his way out of bed. The clock radio read twelve forty-five. He’d tried to fly as far as he could, his only desire to leave it all behind. He’d gotten high enough to see the eastern coastline splayed out below him. If he could have reached the sterile wasteland of the moon he would have, but something stopped him. A sudden recoiling that sent him careening Icarus-like back to Earth.
Monique, even her
No. No. I don’t even know if you really saw anything. It could still all be a dream. Living people don’t go flying around like ghosts. Especially not agnostics!
How can I be sure? How? Am I just going crazy?
Maybe I was crazy all along.
The Cold Inside seemed to curdle around his heart and bleed down into his stomach. It felt worse than the time Adelphos had sucker punched him, worse than his first day back to school after the plea-bargain. He stormed out of his room and started banging on Pam’s door. His psychiatrist was going to have a field day with this but fuck it.
Pam peered out the door of her room, “What the Hell are you doing?”
“Is Monique doing Bobby Hilton?”
“What? It’s like two in the morning!”
Carol Bloom stumbled into the hallway, “What is going on here?”
“Tristam’s acting like a nutcase that’s what’s going on.”
“I need to know. Is she going out with him?” he asked.
Pam sneered “Why do you care? She’s not going out with you, she’s not ever going to go out with you again.”
“She told me she hated his guts and now...”
“What did you expect her to do? Go to the losers table with you?”
“I think you should both go to bed,” Carol said, gently shooing Pam into her room and closing the door. “You can talk it over in the morning. You know the morning? That’s when people are supposed to wake up.”
Tristam blinked back tears, “I’m sorry Mom I just needed to know...”
She put her arm around him and led him back to his room, “To know what?”
“Did Monique really love me or was she just dating me because I’m Pam’s brother?”
“Well, I think she really liked you. She seemed like a nice girl,” Carol spoke softly as she eased her son back down into bed.
“I love her.,” ordinarily he would have refused to let his mother tuck him in, but after the day he’d had today maybe a little tucking in was in order.
“Tristam, you’re sixteen years old you don’t know what love is yet,” she drew the covers up to his chin then ran her hand though his hair.
“What’s wrong with me?”
“I need you to think,” she said, “think about why you did what you did. If you can really talk about that everything will be all right again... someday.
He called after her as she stood to go, “But I don’t know why I did it.”
“Then I don’t know what I can say,” she paused in the doorway, “Goodnight honey.”